Storytelling Tips from Ray Bradbury

The king of science fiction writing, Ray Bradbury, would have been 92 years old today. He passed away only a few months ago in early June, leaving behind an impressive collection of fiction that made him one of the most celebrated American writers of the 20th century. For many young adults, Fahrenheit 451 is their first glimpse into a world of dystopia, and its powerful prose does not leave one’s mind easily. Here are a few storytelling tips from Bradbury that we can apply to the stories we tell in our presentations.

Don’t Think

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”

It’s important to realize that at some point thinking reaches a point of diminishing returns. You can overthink your way into a black hole. At some point, thinking must move out of the way for creativity to take hold. As Bradbury observes, thinking is the enemy of creativity. Thinking chips away at the haphazardness and impulsivity that defines creativity. So when you find yourself in a rut, or you find yourself spinning inside that black hole, stop thinking as much as possible, and see where creativity can take you.

Hard Work Pays Off

“I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true – hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don’t love something, then don’t do it.”

It’s refreshing to hear this kind of advice from someone you admire greatly because indeed, even prolific writers like Bradbury have to practice at their craft. Greatness isn’t achieved in the first draft for even the most talented people. You have to practice, practice and practice again. Remember this when you’re working on the delivery of your presentation. Not enough can be said for practicing over and over again. As Bradbury says, “hard work pays off,” so spend that extra hour practicing one more time.

Flowing and Never Stopping

“A story should be like a river, flowing and never stopping, your readers passengers on a boat, whirling downstream through constantly refreshing and changing scenery.”

Such a mellifluous, quotable little gem about storytelling… this one will be tacked to the inspiration wall in our designer’s room. Like Bradbury says of readers, think of your audience as passengers on a boat, looking around at the beautiful, ever-changing scenery. Be very aware of the journey you’re creating for your audience. How does your story make them feel? What visuals does your story conjure in their minds? Tell a story in your presentation that takes them on an engaging journey, but always be mindful of the final destination at which you wish for them to arrive. 


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